Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is visiting Rome, Italy, from May 4-6 to participate in a meeting of the Libya Contact Group. Today, Secretary Clinton held a bilateral meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Secretary and Foreign Minister discussed a broad range of issues, including the situations in Libya and Syria, our efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the commercial, educational, and cultural ties between the United States and Italy.
Before discussing their meeting, Secretary Clinton first highlighted the strong friendship and partnership between the United States and Italy and thanked Foreign Minister Frattini for hosting this Contact Group meeting about Libya. She said, "This is a great source of pride to our country, because Italy is not only our NATO ally, but our partner in the G-8 and the G-20, a close collaborator on a range of critical issues from counterterrorism to peacekeeping, and a nation that shares our democratic ideals and our commitment to prosperity, peace, and progress."
She continued, "As Franco said, we discussed at length where we are and where we're going with respect to Libya. The United States and Italy have stood shoulder to shoulder along with NATO and our regional partners. Today, we will be discussing in depth how better to increase the pressure on Qadhafi and those around him diplomatically, politically, economically, how we can bring about the outcome that the people of Libya and the international community seek -- an end to the violence against civilians, and the beginning of a democratic transition to a better future.
"We also discussed our deep concern about the alarming situation in Syria. Our nations have called for an immediate end to the use of violence by the Syrian Government against its own people, and we've joined the chorus of the international community. Just last week, the Human Rights Council condemned the violence and is dispatching a mission to Syria to investigate. The United States has announced targeted sanctions against key individuals and entities that have engaged in grave abuses in Syria. And I appreciate very much the foreign minister's call for EU sanctions that should be pursued. Together, we have to show the Syrian Government that there are consequences for this brutal crackdown that has been imposed on the Syrian people.
"I also want to express our deep appreciation for Italy's important participation in the mission in Afghanistan. Four thousand Italian troops stand with us in doing the difficult work of securing Afghanistan and paving the way for its more effective transition to a better future. We're very grateful for that commitment.
"With respect to the ongoing efforts in Afghanistan, Usama bin Ladin's death sent an unmistakable message about the strength of the resolve of the international community to stand against extremism and those who perpetuate it. But let us not forget that the battle to stop al-Qaida and its affiliates does not end with one death. We have to renew our resolve and redouble our efforts not only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but around the world, because it is especially important that there be no doubt that those who pursue a terrorist agenda, the criminals who indiscriminately murder innocent people will be brought to justice.
"Now there are so many other areas where Italy and the United States are intertwined -- certainly, our trading and commercial ties, our educational and cultural ties, and our very important family ties. And we join in congratulating Italy on this important milestone year of your independence. You may know that Vice President Biden will be leading a distinguished delegation for the formal recognition of independence on June 2nd, and we could not be more excited.
"I am very grateful to the close collaboration that I have developed over my time at the State Department with Franco, and we look forward to continuing to work on a range of important and critical issues between our two countries as well as regionally and globally."
You can read the Secretary's complete remarks here.